Oscars: Algeria Picks 'Papicha' for Best International Film Category

Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
'Papicha'

Mounia Meddour's debut feature, set during the Algerian Civil War, premiered in Cannes.

Algeria is the first out of the gate in the race for the 2020 Oscars, naming Mounia Meddour's Papicha its official contender for the best international film category.

Set in the 1990s, Papicha stars Lyna Khoudri as Nedjma, a fashion-obsessed young woman who, together with her girlfriend, Wassila (Shirine Boutella), makes money selling garments they've made made in the bathroom of local dance club to the "papichas," or pretty girls. Like the rest of the country, they will soon be caught up in Algeria's bloody civil war. But the pair continue to fight for their freedom, and for their dream of staging their own fashion show.

Meddour's feature debut premiered in Cannes' Un Certain Regard section this year.

Algeria has been nominated four times for the Oscar in what used to be called the foreign-language category. Costa-Gavras' political thriller Z, which won in 1969, is the country's sole Oscar winner.

The nominees for the 2020 Oscars will be announced on Jan. 13, 2020. The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 9, 2020.